Sivananda Saraswati

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Sivananda Saraswati
Swami Shivananda Liebe.jpg
Personal
Born
Kuppuswami

(1887-09-08)8 September 1887
Died14 July 1963(1963-07-14) (aged 75)
Sivanandanagar
ReligionHinduism
NationalityIndian
Founder ofDivine Life Society
PhilosophyYoga of Synthesis
Religious career
GuruVishwānanda Saraswati
Quotation
Be Good, do Good.

Sivananda Saraswati (or Swami Sivananda; 8 September 1887 – 14 July 1963) was a Hindu spiritual teacher and a proponent of Yoga and Vedanta. Sivananda was born Kuppuswami in Pattamadai, in the Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu. He studied medicine and served in British Malaya as a physician for several years before taking up monasticism. He lived most of his life near Muni Ki Reti, Rishikesh.

He was the founder of the Divine Life Society (DLS) in 1936, Yoga-Vedanta Forest Academy (1948) and author of over 200 books on yoga, Vedanta, and a variety of subjects. He established Sivananda Ashram, the headquarters of the DLS, on the bank of the Ganges at Sivanandanagar, 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) from Rishikesh.[1][2][3]

Sivananda Yoga, the yoga form propagated by his disciple Vishnudevananda, is now spread in many parts of the world through Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres. These centres are not affiliated with Sivananda's ashrams, which are run by the Divine Life Society.

Biography[edit]

Early life[edit]

Swami Sivananda was born Kuppuswamy on Thursday, September 8, 1887, during the first hours of the morning, with Bharani star rising in Pattamadai village on the banks of Tamraparni river in Tirunelveli district, Tamil Nadu. His father, Sri P.S. Vengu Iyer, worked as a revenue officer, and was a great Shiva Bhakta (Bhakti) himself. His mother, Srimati Parvati Ammal, was a very religious woman. Kuppuswamy was the third and last child of his parents.[4][5]

As a child he was very active and promising in academics and gymnastics. He attended medical school in Tanjore, where he excelled. He ran a medical journal called Ambrosia during this period. Upon graduation he practiced medicine and worked as a doctor in British Malaya for ten years, with a reputation for providing free treatment to poor patients. Over time, a sense that medicine was healing on a superficial level grew in Dr. Kuppuswamy, urging him to look elsewhere to fill the void, and in 1923 he left Malaya and returned to India to pursue his spiritual quest.[4]

Initiation[edit]

Upon his return to India in 1924, he went to Rishikesh where he met his guru, Vishvananda Saraswati, who initiated him into the Sannyasa order, and gave him his monastic name; the full ceremony was conducted by Vishnudevananda, the mahant (abbot) of Sri Kailas ashram.[4] Sivananda settled in Rishikesh, and immersed himself in intense spiritual practices. Sivānanda performed austerities for many years but continued to nurse the sick. In 1927, with some money from an insurance policy, he ran a charitable dispensary at Lakshman Jhula.[4]

Travels[edit]

After a few years, Sivananda went on an extensive pilgrimage and travelled the length and breadth of India to meditate at holy shrines and came in contact with spiritual teachers throughout India. During this Parivrajaka (wandering monk) life, Sivānanda visited important places of pilgrimage in the south, including Rameswaram. He conducted Sankirtan and delivered lectures during his travels. He visited the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, and met Maharishi Shuddhananda Bharati to whom he gave the title of Maharishi. At the Ramana Ashram, he had the darshan of Ramana Maharshi on Maharshi's birthday. He sang bhajans and danced in ecstasy with Maharshi's bhaktas. He also went on pilgrimages to various places in northern India including Kedarnath and Badrinath. He visited Kailash-Manasarovar in 1931.[citation needed] He became known to his critics as "Swami Propagandananda" for his energetic propagation of his yoga message.[6]

Founding the Divine Life Society[edit]

Sivananda founded the DLS in 1936 on the banks of the Ganges River, distributing spiritual literature for free.[4] Early disciples included Satyananda Saraswati, founder of Satyananda Yoga.

Krishnananda and Sivananda (right), circa 1945

In 1945, Sivananda created the Sivananda Ayurvedic Pharmacy, and organised the All-world Religions Federation.[4] He established the All-world Sadhus Federation in 1947 and Yoga-Vedanta Forest Academy in 1948.[4] He called his yoga the Yoga of Synthesis, combining the Four Yogas of Hinduism (Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Jnana Yoga, Rāja Yoga).[7]

Samadhi[edit]

Swami Sivananda entered Mahasamadhi (departure of a Self-realized saint from his mortal coil) on 14 July 1963 in his Kutir on the bank of the Ganges, in Sivanandanagar.

Disciples[edit]

Sivananda on a 1986 stamp of India

Sivananda's two chief acting organizational disciples were Chidananda Saraswati and Krishnananda Saraswati. Chidananda Saraswati was appointed president of the DLS by Sivananda in 1963 and served in this capacity until his death in 2008. Krishnananda Saraswati was appointed General Secretary by Sivananda in 1958 and served in this capacity until his death in 2001.

Other prominent disciples were Venkatesananda Saraswati (South Africa, Mauritius, Madagascar, Australia), Pranavanda Saraswati (Malaysia) and Sivananda Radha Saraswati (Canada). Another prominent disciple was Swami Sahajananda Saraswati (South Africa), who was directed by Sivananda to establish the Divine Life Society of South Africa.

Disciples who went on to grow new organisations

Works[edit]

A prolific author, Sivananda wrote 296 books on a variety of subjects: metaphysics, yoga, vedanta, religion, western philosophy, psychology, eschatology, fine arts, ethics, education, health, sayings, poems, epistles, autobiography, biography, stories, dramas, messages, lectures, dialogues, essays and anthology. His books emphasised the practical application of Yoga philosophy over theoretical knowledge.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Divine Life Society Britannica.com
  2. ^ Divine Life Society Divine enterprise: Gurus and the Hindu Nationalist Movement, by Lise McKean. University of Chicago Press, 1996. ISBN 0-226-56009-0. Page 164=165.
  3. ^ Swami Shivananda Religion and anthropology: a critical introduction, by Brian Morris. Cambridge University Press, 2006. ISBN 0-521-85241-2. Page 144.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g "H. H. SRI SWAMI SIVANANDA SARASWATI". Divine Life Society. 2011. Retrieved 25 August 2019.
  5. ^ "Swami Sivananda". Yoga Magazine (Issue 18). Retrieved 25 August 2019.
  6. ^ Goldberg, Elliott (2016). The Path of Modern Yoga : the history of an embodied spiritual practice. Inner Traditions. p. 332. ISBN 978-1-62055-567-5. OCLC 926062252.
  7. ^ Sivananda (29 May 2017). "Yoga of Synthesis".

Bibliography and further reading[edit]

External links[edit]